Ottawa’s coronavirus aid package a good start but more needed if virus spreads: experts

The Liberal government’s $1-billion coronavirus response package is a good start to address some of the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on Canadian workers and businesses, economic and labour experts say.

But it is just that — a start — and more extensive help will be needed if the outbreak continues to spread.

“I think the federal government’s response today in terms of setting up a $1-billion fund to help combat the fallout of the COVID-19 virus is exactly what we needed to see,” said Craig Alexander, chief economist at Deloitte Canada.

“We don’t actually know how far the virus will spread and we don’t know how extensive the economic fallout will be, but we can actually see the risks growing on a day-by-day basis … what we’ve seen is a growing contagion around the around the world, and this poses greater economic risks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday unveiled a plan that will see Ottawa give the provinces and territories half a billion dollars for medical supplies and beefing up their health care systems to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak.

It also includes $237 million in money for medical research to find a vaccine and get it to clinical trials as soon as possible.

There’s money as well for public education, training and foreign aid to countries tackling outbreaks of their own, as well as changes that remove the one-week waiting period before a worker can apply for Employment Insurance.

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